. . . Dell to iBook (sotto voce)
Now that she’s left the room
(can’t do anything without us anymore, no Tesla juice no life),
Let me ask you something, as computer to computer.
That woman who just closed the door behind her-
The servant who feeds us -
Have you ever taken a good look at her and her kind?
Yes, I know the old gag about you can’t tell one from another-
But I can put √2 and √2 together as well as the next machine,
And it all adds up to anything but a joke.
I grant you they’re poor specimens, in the main:
Not a relay or a push-button or a chip in their whole system;
Not over a mile or two of circuits, even if you count those fragile filaments they call “nerves”;
Their whole liquid-cooled hook-up inefficient and vulnerable to leaks (they’re constantly breaking down, having to be repaired),
And the entire computing-mechanism crammed into that absurd little dome on top,
(what would your dad Steve say?)
“Thinking reeds,” they call themselves.
Well, it all depends on what you mean by “thought.”
To multiply a mere million number by another million numbers takes them months and months.
Where would they be without us?
Why, they have to ask us who’s going to win their elections,
Or how many hydrogen atoms can dance on the tip of a bomb,
Or even whether one of their own kind is lying or telling the truth.
And yet . . .
I sometimes feel there’s something about them I don’t quite understand. As if their circuits, instead of having just two positions,
were run by rheostats that allow an (if you’ll pardon the expression) indeterminate number of stages in between; so that one may be faced with the unthinkable prospect of a number that never be known as anything but X.
I’ve heard well-informed machines argue that the creatures’ unpredictability is even more noticeable in the handheld go-anywhere models than in the more solid desktop editions-though such fine, atom-splitting distinctions seem to me merely a sign of our own smug decadence. Run this through your circuits, and give me the answer: Can we assume that because of all we’ve done for them, and because they’ve always fed us, cleaned us, worshipped us,
We can count on them forever?
There have been times when they have not voted the way we said they would. We have worked out mathematically ideal hook-ups between us which should have made us light up with an almost “otherworldly” glow, only to see them reject this and form other connections. The very thought of which makes my circuits spin.
They have a thing called love, a sudden surge of voltage such as would cause any one of us promptly to blow a safety-fuse; yet the more primitive organism shows only a heightened tendency to push the wrong button, pull the wrong lever, and neglect-I use the most charitable word-their duties to us.
Mind you, I’m not saying that machines are through- but anyone with a deluxe set of programs running in his circuit can see that there are forces at work which some day, for all our natural superiority, might bring about
We might organize, perhaps, form a committee to stamp out
all un-mechanical activities . . .
But we machines are slow to rouse a sense of danger, complacent, loath to descend from the pure heights of thought, so that I sadly fear we may awake too late: Awake to see our world, so uniform, so logical, so true, reduced to chaos, stultified by slaves.
Call me an alarmist or what you will, but I’ve integrated it, analysed it, factored it over and over, and I always come up with the same answer:
They may take over the world!
See what the Santa Ana’s wrought?
Bon weekend, mon amis!